Questlove Says He Sometimes Calls Will Smith at 3 a.m. for 'Advice on Just Everything'

Questlove and Will Smith, both Philadelphia natives, each won big at the National Board of Review Awards

Not everyone would welcome a late-night phone call from a friend seeking advice — but not everyone is Will Smith and Questlove.

Though only recent pals, the two share a bond that goes way back to their days being West Philadelphia born and raised, something Questlove says made reading Smith's memoir Will highly relatable.

"I read his book and it was life-changing because his story is my story exactly," the Roots musician, 51, told PEOPLE at the National Board of Review Awards Gala on Tuesday. "We both come up from West Philly, where survival is everything, and I called him up and really just thanked him for being so vulnerable, because…sometimes Black people aren't encouraged to dream or be vulnerable or be sensitive or really be honest about how they feel inside."

The drummer says that prior to reading Will, he only knew Smith, 53, in passing, but was closer friends with DJ Jazzy Jeff, Smith's frequent collaborator.

Will Smith and Questlove
Will Smith and Questlove. Dave Allocca/Starpix/Shutterstock

After reading the book, though, which was released in November, Questlove says his friendship with the King Richard star took off, and he soon found himself calling the star seeking advice.

"He's allowed me to like, hit him up at three in the morning, and he gets me out of my head sometimes with advice on just everything," he says. "I highly recommend everyone [read] Will… The persona of the superhuman Will Smith, he breaks that down. He just totally dissects himself and reveals a human being that was scared, and despite his fear, put on a brave face. I fell for that magic. It's inspirational to me, and it really helped me in this time of my journey right now."

Both Questlove and Smith are making the rounds on this year's award show circuit, and each took home a win at this year's National Board of Review Awards.

will smith
Will Smith. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for National Board of Review

Smith's portrayal of Richard Williams in King Richard won him best actor, while Questlove won best documentary for Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), about the 1969 Harlem Culture Festival.

The film, which Questlove directed, is also up for the same prize at this year's Academy Awards.

He told PEOPLE in June that he'd felt an enormous amount of anxiety over the last three years working on the film, and "taking responsibility" for bringing it to life.

"I return this film back to the people of Harlem so if nothing ever happens with this film now, I'm fine with it," he said. "The fact that I was able to take and find and restore their story and bring it back to Harlem — this means everything to me."

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